Wednesday, March 29, 2017
How to Lobby like a BAMF: Get that Meeting.
(Editor's Note: This a guest post and part of a three part series from the amazing Carly Pildis, an OFA alumna who will explain her current position in her post below. It is part of my continued effort to share tools and information to help our community feel empowered in the Trump era. Thank you so much to Carly for sharing your wisdom!)
Many people have this idea that Members of Congress are too important spend time talking to ordinary people. I have found many Members ENJOY talking to well informed, passionate constituents and building relationships in the communities they serve. Meetings have been shown over and over to be the most effective way to create relationships and make change, but how do you get one?
1.You don’t have to go to Washington!
Members of Congress come home regularly. Many are home several times a month and most are home for at least part of recess periods. It’s a misnomer that Members are on vacation when they are out of session, they are actually often home with you!
2.Start in Writing.
First submit a written request via email to your Member’s scheduler. You can look them up here and use the standard house or senate email format to write to them. A simple polite letter letting them know that you would like a meeting during the next recess, who you and others coming to the meeting are, and what you’d like to discuss is all you need. Send it off to the scheduler and buy yourself a cup of coffee to say good job!
3.Pick up the Phone
Every other day, give that scheduler a call until you get a meeting! Do it on your lunch break, or while you are on the bus. If after two weeks they haven’t responded try a few emails. Keep it up! Don’t take it personally - Members and their schedulers can be super busy, but they will eventually get back to you! If it takes more than 2 weeks, try calling the local in district office and tell them you are having a hard time. Worse comes to worse a (FRIENDLY! NICE) Tweet can come in handy.
4.Legislative Aides Are Awesome!
Members care what you think, but there are a lot of you! With votes, budget negotiations, the constant grind of campaign fundraising, etc. schedules fill up fast! Members hire smart young people to help them figure out what to prioritize and what to support. It is incredibly useful to make friends with people in your local office. If you are offered a meeting with them TAKE IT! They are like you, passionate, idealistic and driven. If you make a good impression they can have a lot of influence and can push your cause hard. Ask local staff to conference in relevant policy staff from DC and you can get to know the whole clique!
Now you know how to get a meeting go out and get it! Make your voice heard! Next installment will cover what to do in the meeting!
Carly Pildis serves as Senior Associate, Advocacy and Organizing for RESULTS. She manages the REAL Change Organizing and Advocacy Fellowship to Fight Poverty. She also managed candidate engagement around the 2016 POTUS primary, and works closely with both the legislative team and grassroots team on RESULTS campaigns. Prior to her time at RESULTS, she served as Operation Vote Director for the DC office of Obama for America, working to organize people of color and other constituency groups in support of the 2012 reelection campaign. Additionally she has served as a Fellow for Jubilee USA Network, and as a Advocacy Consultant/Field Organizer for American Jewish World Services on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. Want to join her in the fight to protect foreign aid and stop budget cuts that would threaten the futures of millions of people living in poverty? Email her Cpildis@results.org or follow her on twitter @carlypildis